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Senate ESEA Draft: Review of Approved Amendments, Part II

April 21, 2015

On April 16, 2015, the Senate education committee approved the Alexander-Murray draft of the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA), a 601-page document entitled, The Every Child Achieves Act of 2015.

The draft approval was accompanied by 29 amendments, which can be found on this Senate ed page.

I reviewed the entire original 601-page Alexander-Murray draft in a series of six posts that can be accessed here.

I have already reviewed 10 of the 29 amendments. My review of those first 10 can be accessed here.

In this post, I continue my review of the 29 amendments with the next 10. (I will review the remainder in yet another post.)

I am reviewing the amendments mostly in alphabetical order by file name. Below each file link is my review for that particular amendment.

Let’s begin:


This single-page amendment allots a greater proportion of Title II state funding for “the improvement of teaching and learning” grants based upon “the number of individuals age 5 through 17 from families with incomes below the poverty line in the State.”  The original proportion was 65 percent; the amendment raised the proportion to 80 percent.


This three-page amendment to Title II (“High-quality Teachers, Principals, and Other School Leaders”) has to do with a “hold harmless” provision noting that no given funding amount is guaranteed for Title II, Part A “Fund for the Improvement of Teaching and learning”).  Among the “hold harmless” stipulations are that states will not being awarded less in 2016 than 14.29 percent of the amount the state was awarded in 2001 (at the inception of No Child Left Behind). The “not less than 14.29 percent” reduction can be doubled in 2017, and tripled in 2018, and so forth– unless there is less money– in which case the secretary will adjust accordingly.

If there is more money than expected, the secretary will once again adjust accordingly.

This “hold harmless” amendment was approved, as was another “hold harmless” amendment for the very same section, but with slightly different details: Casey_TitleII_Amendment#4 Modified – Signed. The Casey amendment uses simpler formulas for funding decisions than does the Burr amendment (the one explained above). I do not know which one was finally approved.

Casey_TitleII_Amendment#1 – Signed:

This eight-page amendment adds to Title II grants for developing “ready to learn” television programs “for preschool and elementary school children and their parents in order to facilitate student academic achievement” and “to develop and disseminate education and training materials, including interactive programs and programs adaptable to distance learning technologies, that are designed to promote school readiness….”

Entities receiving such grants will be required to submit an annual report to the secretary, who, in turn, must report on such funding in her/his biennial report to Congress.

Casey_TitleIV_Amendment#3 – Signed:

This single-page amendment to Title IV (“Safe and Healthy Students”) adds the possibility of states using Title IV funds for “designing and implementing a grant process for local entities that wish to use funds to reduce exclusionary discipline practices in elementary schools and secondary schools, in a manner consistent with State or Federally identified best practices on the subject.”

In other words, states can pass Title IV funds to local districts in order to help the districts cut down on discipline that removes the student from the classroom, such as suspensions and expulsions.


Regarding the Title I state grants (limited to five) for “innovative assessment system,” this amendment adds to that list the possibility of developing “instructionally embedded assessments” and adds the term “or proficiency,” meaning that such assessments developed under this Title I grant could include “assessments that validate when students are ready to demonstrate mastery or proficiency.”

This amendment also clarifies that the secretary may award grants based upon applicants’ meeting the application requirements.

The secretary may award funding to more than five states for this “innovative assessment system” grant if he/she determines “overall” that the initial five grants for proposed assessment systems have yielded satisfactory outcomes “overall.”

This amendment adds more precise language in a number of sections (e.g., the replacement language more precisely accounts for the possibility that the “innovative” assessments are being piloted in a limited number of districts and not initially administered statewide).

Finally, the amendment allows for a consortium of states to apply for the grant only if each state individually meets the conditions to qualify for the grant.

Franken_Title IV_Amendment #1:

This eight-page amendment adds a section to Title IV (“Safe and Healthy Students”) that allows for grants to states “to establish or improve” school counseling programs at both the elementary and secondary levels. Those eligible to apply for these grants include 1) local education agencies (LEAs); 2) educational service agencies that serve LEAs, and 3) LEA consortia.

Special consideration for these school counseling program grants is to be given to programs that have established the greatest need for such grants and show promise that the grant proposal could be successful. Furthermore, priority is to be given to proposals that serve “students in rural and remote areas”; schools “in need of improvement”; “schools with high percentages of students in poverty as evidenced by 1) census data, or 2) eligibility for free or reduced lunch, or 3) their families’ receiving Social Security benefits, or 4) eligibility for Medicaid.

There is nothing in this amendment that implies that Medicaid is to be used to pay for counseling services.

Grant recipients are to document that it has consulted with parents and families in the development of the grant proposal, and they are to incorporate both school-based services and community-based service collaboration. Community-based services are to “supplement, not supplant” school-based counseling services.


This two-page amendment to Title I concerns the requirements for academic assessments. Specifically, the amendment adds that the assessment in “each subject” must identify 1) whether the student is performing above or below grade level and 2) the exact grade level at which the student is performing.

The amendment also adds a clause that states are not prohibited from using computer adaptive assessments.


This 18-page amendment adds a section, “Accelerated Learning,” to Title II (“High Quality Teachers, Principals, and Other School Leaders”). The accelerated learning grants are for states and are to be used for establishing and promoting Advanced Placement (AP), International Baccalaureate, dual enrollment programs, and “early college high schools that provide postsecondary instruction… that are widely accepted for credit at institutions of higher education.”

This amendment also allows for professional development related to accelerated learning programs, and it can be used to pay examination fees for low-income students.

States must report annually to the US secretary on the outcomes of this grant. Reports on student testing outcomes by scoring category (and including student demographics) are to be “disaggregated by race, ethnicity, sex, English proficiency status, and socioeconomic status” (pg. 6). Each year, the secretary must report the outcomes of this grant to Congress.

Eligible entities for this grant include state ed agencies, LEAs, or nonprofits “with experience in providing accelerated learning course services…”that are partnering with states or LEAs.

Eligible entities must match this grant money dollar for dollar unless the secretary determines the entity is a “high need LEA”(e.g., serving a high concentration of low-income students or located in a rural area). In such a case, the LEAs may match each federal dollar by fifty cents. Even still, if the matching (even in-kind matching) poses hardship for a district, the secretary may waive the matching requirement.

This grant is intended to “supplement, not supplant” “other non-Federal funds” for accelerated learning.

Okay. One more for this post:


This 16-page amendment is also for Title II and makes grant money available for programs to promote science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) “including computer science” (pg. 2).

Two of the stated goals involves “closing student achievement gaps, and preparing more students to be college and career ready, in such subjects” (pg. 2).

Entities eligible for this grant are LEAs and entities serving LEAs designated as “high need.” Grant money is awarded to the state, and the state distributes the funds.

This amendment also introduces the concept of a “STEM master teacher corps” (pg. 4). The idea involves “recognizing, rewarding, attracting, and retaining” “outstanding” STEM teachers via merit pay, additional resources, and “instructional leadership roles.”

States may use this Title II grant money to pay STEM teachers (as may LEAs), and LEAS may use funds to “support low income students in nonprofit [STEM] competitions” (pg. 13).

The state must report annually to the secretary, who must work via the Director of the Institute of Educational Sciences to prepare a report in conjunction with the Director of the National Science Foundation, so that reports on best practices might be disseminated on the STEM grant outcomes.

Whew. Enough for one post.

Twenty Senate ESEA draft amendments covered. Nine to go.

senate ed committee


Schneider is a southern Louisiana native, career teacher, trained researcher, and author of the ed reform whistle blower, A Chronicle of Echoes: Who’s Who In the Implosion of American Public Education.

She also has her second book available on pre-order, Common Core Dilemma: Who Owns Our Schools?, due for publication June 12, 2015.

CC book cover








  1. Fred Bartels permalink

    I hope you will do a post expanding on ESEA’s support of charters. I suspect this is where Wall Street is putting its money. thks

  2. Laura H. Chapman permalink

    Big job, well done. Sounds like a version of Sesame Street is wanted and in-home delivery of preschool support. Lot of language that supports on-lime learning and proficiency badges… meaning you do not need seat time in a school with a face-to-face encounters with teachers and peers…you can do virtual everything. And the STEM + computers is again given preferential treatment. Meanwhile a bill on funding research will cut funding for research in the social sciences in favor of STEM. The International Baccalaureate is the only place where there seems to be any remnant of thinking about the virtue of studies in the liberal arts including the economic payoffs, often greater than for professional degrees but at a different trajectory over a work-life. Looking forward to your book on the CCSS. The purveyors have a super-pac campaign to save these and the tests, with many foundations and institutions of higher ed enlisted to accept the test scores…possibly in lieu of SAT and ACT. The National Governor’s Association jump-started the new “messaging campaign.”

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. Mercedes Scheider Reviews 20 Amendments to Senate ESEA Proposal | Diane Ravitch's blog
  2. Ed News, Friday, April 24, 2015 Edition | tigersteach
  3. The Common Core Weekend Reads – 4-25-15 | Lady Liberty 1885

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